Gopinathan Nair.N ( Janayugom Gopi)
N.Gopinathan Nair ( Janayugom Gopi) ( 1923- 1991)
N.Gopinathan Nair, born in a middle class family in a suburb of Kollam town is remembered by most Keralites as Janayugom Gopi. He was the founding editor of Janayugom Rashtriya Vaarika, the weekly that preceded Janayugom newspaper. He completed his schooling in Kollam and Intermediate in Trivandrum. He then went to American College, Madurai where he read Chemistry. Madurai, throbbing with the sound and fury of the nationalist movement, pushed young Gopi into student politics. He became the Speaker of the College Union Cabinet. From then there was no doubt in his mind. He was part of the Independence Movement . He read Gandhi, Nehru and other leaders of that time. He decided that politics was his arena and that his contribution towards fighting for the country would be with his pen.
After graduating he went straight to Madras and joined the Indian Express. After three months he was sent to the Eastern Express in Calcutta. He soon realized that Goenka’s was not the paper he wished to work for, and moved back to Kollam. His role model was Swadeshabhimani Ramakrishna Pillai. As soon as he returned to Kollam he met a few others who had similar ideas about national freedom, and journalism. Only one among them, K.N.Pankajakshan Pillai had some experience in journalism. But they had commitment and intense desire, though they had no money. Of course journalism was not the business it later became. The group joined Prabhatam run by Thangal Kunju Musaliar, the cashew magnate.
During that time, they were spotted by M.N.Govindan Nair who was spreading ideas of Communism in and around Kollam. M.N. knew that the well-known Congressman K.K Chellapan Pillai had obtained a license to start a newspaper. Gopi’s leanings were towards the Congress Socialist group at that time. Under the influence of M.N, Gopi and group were given the responsibility of starting Yuva Keralam by K.K. Chellappan Pillai. It started well, but did not last long. They dared to carry a story about the decapitated statue of the then Dewan C.P Ramaswamy Iyer. This was news that no other newspaper dared to print. Harassment following this led to the closure of this paper.
Meanwhile, a license had been obtained to start a new newspaper. Despite financial hurdles, Gopi and his group of friends moved ahead with sheer determination plus the generous support of the people who gave small donations. Janayugom Rashtriya Varika was started in January 1949. It was in every sense a people’s paper with Gopi as its first editor. By May the editor was arrested on false charges . Gopi was released only in 1951. Janayugom became a daily in 1953. Under Gopi’s able guidance it became the paper with the third largest circulation in Kerala covering news for and about the ordinary masses.
Gopi moved to Delhi in 1962 . For several years he used to write for Janayugom and some other Malayalam weeklies. In Delhi he worked with Patriot , New Wave and finally retired in 1983 from UNI news agency. In a long career spanning over four decades, Gopi worked as editor, chief sub editor and Special Correspondent covering a range of issues which included politics, Parliament, science and technology, rural development, world peace, the Non Aligned movement to name a few. He was able to infuse his writing with his leftist commitment while remaining a hard-nosed reporter. Although he gave up his party membership after the split in 1964, he remained a trusted friend of all factions of the Communist party. He also mentored many youngsters who rose to great heights in the world of journalism. An avid reader, he was proficient in writing in both Malayalam and English. He travelled widely as a journalist and wrote many incisive and observant pieces . Many of his writings in the pages of New Wave are archived in Yale University and the University of Wisconsin at Madison in the U.S.
Towards the end of his life he developed Parkinsons related problems. Thus he had to cut back and abruptly end a very productive career. Yet he took a keen interest in the news and political events of the day.
Till his last breath, he remained a concerned newsman.
He loved good cinema, music and sports .
The Scribe Remembered, N.Gopinathan Nair, his life and times( Janayugom Gopiye Orkumbol )edited by his life partner Dr. K. Saradamoni has a collection of articles by him and about him in both English and Malayalam. The following Facebook site also has information about him and the book : www.Facebook.com/NGopinathanNair